Do Plecos Need a Bubbler?

No, plecos don’t need a bubbler. If you already have good water circulation and enough dissolved oxygen in your fish tank, a bubbler is only optional.

Plecos need a sufficient amount of oxygen to support their metabolic processes. In addition, a well-equipped aquarium can provide a healthy habitat for your aquatic pets.

So, if you’re wondering whether a bubbler is a great idea for your plecos, this article is for you. Let’s dive in.

Common Pleco on Leaf

Do Plecos Need a Bubbler?

Typically, oxygen enters your water tank through the surface. However, oxygen absorption requires enough water movement. The tank filter provides this movement as it stirs up the water while working to keep the tank clean.

Nevertheless, if you think your plecos need even more oxygen, you can always install a bubbler to improve water movement. As the name implies, a bubbler releases bubbles that go up to the surface of the water tank to improve oxygenation. Moreover, a bubbler can create more surface agitation, allowing more gas exchange.

How Can You Tell If Your Plecos Need More Oxygen?

Like humans, plecos can’t live without oxygen. Thus, aeration is vital in making the tank a well-balanced ecosystem. However, if your plecos aren’t having enough oxygen, they may exhibit these signs:


An insufficient oxygen supply may result in the plecos being less active and swimming around less to conserve energy. They may also start to consume less food, which can be detrimental to their health.

Rapid Gill Movement

If oxygen levels drop too low, one obvious sign is that they’ll start to show labored breathing. Eventually, they’ll have more rapid gill movement in an attempt to breathe in more oxygen from the tank water.

Gulping For Air

Plecos tend to show strange behavior when they don’t have enough oxygen. For example, they may swim to the surface to gulp for air. Also, you may notice they’re spending more and more time by the filter where the oxygen level is highest.

What Causes Less Oxygen in the Water Tank?

Several factors can affect Plecos’ oxygen levels, which are:

Water Movement

Stagnant water contains less oxygen. Therefore, the water tank needs regular surface agitation to absorb adequate oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Filters may provide water movement, but bubblers help agitate the water surface more, thus increasing oxygen levels.

Water Temperature

Since plecos are tropical fish, they can’t thrive in cold water. Instead, they require a warmer temperature. Since water with higher temperatures has low oxygen levels, you’ll need more water agitation.

A filter in full capacity can usually provide the needed agitation. On the other hand, a bubbler can offer more bubbles that float up and stir the surface.

Aquatic Plants

Usually, aquatic plants are key to a balanced ecosystem. Yet, plants shouldn’t be your plecos’ only source of oxygen.

While aquatic plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, they need adequate amounts of natural or artificial light to do so. Without it, they’ll reverse the process to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide instead.


Overcrowding is the leading cause of low oxygen levels. Plecos are often a good companion of other freshwater fish. Although they are more territorial against fellow plecos, you can keep a maximum of two plecos together in a fish tank.

However, remember that the more fish in your tank, the more oxygen it needs. So, make sure that the aquarium is large enough to provide each fish with ample room to swim. An inch of your fish is equivalent to two gallons of water.

What Are the Best Bubblers for Plecos?

So, does your tank need a bubbler? Then, check out the most common designs on the market.


Airstone bubbles can be made of wood, sand, and plastic and come in different shapes and sizes. Yet, the bubbles depend on the number and sizes of holes or pores in the device.

An Airstone with larger pores will make bigger, but fewer, bubbles. Alternatively, a device with smaller pores will provide more bubbles that are smaller in size.

Bubble Wand

As the name suggests, a Bubble Wand is another type of bubbler that comes in the shape of a wand. It features several suction cups to help keep it in place.

It’s quick and efficient, filling the tank with plenty of bubbles to make your plecos happy.

Flexible Bubble Wall

Unlike a traditional Airstone, this type is made of a more flexible material like rubber. A Flexible Bubble Wall comes in different lengths that you can either twist or coil inside the tank.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with suction cups. So, you’ll need to weigh it down somehow to prevent it from floating around the tank.

LED Bubbler

A LED Bubbler has a more modern look compared to the other types. Aside from releasing bubbles, it also lights up the bubbles with LED lights that provide the tank with some colorful entertainment.

The only downside is that it needs to be plugged into a power outlet. Yet, that can be easily accomplished by moving the tank closer to an electrical plug.

Bubbler Ornament

Bubbler Ornament is a lot more decorative and festive. Another fun feature is that it comes in various designs—from little sunken treasures to cute volcanos.

A Bubbler Ornament is made of the same material as Airstones, which makes it easy to use. Plus, having all those great styles to choose from makes it another fan favorite.

The Verdict

So, do plecos need a bubbler? Yes and no. A bubbler isn’t necessary, but it does enhance the oxygen levels in the tank. Thus, it helps provide a healthier, more breathable environment for the plecos.

Remember that oxygenation is essential to keep a breathable and healthy environment for your plecos. Otherwise, if there are insufficient oxygen levels in the tank, your fish can suffer from stunted growth and weakened metabolism.